“Whatever I am, I ain’t that,” cried Williams.
“To a man who has ruined more girls than anyone else in London?” continued Mrs Hamilton. “I solemnly warn you that if you go with that man it means your ruin—ruin body and soul.”
Mrs Hamilton spoke in such a low, earnest voice, that Mavis, who now recollected Mr Williams’s previous behaviour to her, was inclined to waver.
Mrs Hamilton saw her advantage and said:
“Since you disbelieve in me, the least you can do is to go upstairs and take off my clothes.”
“She’ll do nothing of the kind,” cried out the man.
“He doesn’t want to lose his prey,” Mrs Hamilton remarked to Mavis, who was inclined to falter a little more.
Perhaps Williams saw the weakening of the girl’s resolution, for he made a last desperate effort on her behalf.
“Look here,” he said, “I’m not a sneak, but, if you don’t own up and let Miss Devereux go, I’ll fetch in the police.”
“You’ll what?” cried Mrs Hamilton.
“Fetch in the police. Not to Mrs Hamilton, but to Mrs Bridgeman, Mrs Knight, or Mrs Davis.”
Mrs Hamilton’s face went white; she looked intently at the man to see if he were in earnest. His resolute eyes convinced her that he was.
The next moment, a torrent of foul words fell from her lips. She abused Mavis; she reviled the man; she accused the two of sin, the while she made use of obscene, filthy phrases, which caused Mavis to put her hands to her ears.
Mavis no longer wavered. She put her hand on the man’s arm; the next minute they were out in the street.
MAVIS GOES OUT TO SUPPER
“Where now?” asked the man, as the two stood outside in the street.
“Good night,” replied Mavis.
“I’m grateful to you for getting me out of that place, but I can never see you or speak to you again.”
“We needn’t go into it. I want to try to forget it, although I never shall. Good-bye.”
“I can’t let you go like this. Let me drive you home.”
“Home!” laughed Mavis scornfully. “I’ve no home.”
“Really no home?”
“I haven’t a soul in the world who cares what becomes of me: not a friend in the world. And all I valued you’ve soiled. It made me hate you, and nothing will ever alter it. Good-bye.”
She turned away. The man followed.
“Look here, I’ll tell you all about myself, which shows my intentions are straight.”
“It wouldn’t interest me.”
“Why not? You liked me before—before that happened, and, when you’ve forgiven me, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t like me again.”
“There’s every reason.”
“My name’s Windebank—Archibald Windebank. I’m in the service, and my home is Haycock Abbey, near Melkbridge—”